By John-Henry Westen

Hamilton, December 21, 2007 ( – In a 5-4 decision the Halton Catholic District School Board decided Tuesday to ban the anti-Catholic book“The Golden Compass” and the other two books in the “His Dark Materials” anti-religion series. 

The film, “The Golden Compass” has ignited interest in the books and drawn the attention of Catholic leaders the world over who have condemned it. In addition to several US bishops and archbishops, the Vatican newspaper blasted the film and books in an editorial this week.

The removal of the book from Catholic schools comes as no surprise considering the author, militant atheist Phillip Pullman has admitted publicly that with his works “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.” In fact the question some are asking now is how the trilogy came to be placed in Catholic schools in the first place and how many other materials undermining Christian faith are in those libraries and school programs.

However, a Catholic school board near the Halton board is not only refusing to ban the books, but has expressed shock and disdain at the decision to pull the books. The Cambridge Times reports that Waterloo Catholic District School Board Chair Wayne Buchholtz ranked the Pullman novels as a classic in league with the offerings of C.S. Lewis. “How can you pull a book like that?” he said to the Times. “I’m pleased that our board is not even considering it.”

But Pullman’s books are not the only ones of little concern to the Waterloo Catholic board. The Board was approached early this year by the group Defend Traditional Marriage and Family (DTMF) which was concerned about a teacher resource book promoting homosexuality as well as some thirty similarly objectionable books, videos and pamphlets available to Catholic students in school libraries and guidance offices.

The Board decided to retain the teacher resource book at its main offices but not in all schools but has of yet not dealt with the objectionable materials in the libraries.  During the kerfuffle, a board spokesman even referred to DTMF as “an extremist hate group”.

In what came as no surprise, gay “pride” clubs have begun in at least two Catholic schools in the board. One student who founded one of the clubs calls herself an “out lesbian” and reports that a pro-homosexuality novel, one of those objected to by the marriage group, was her inspiration for starting the club. (see coverage: ) contacted DTMF spokesman Jack Fonseca for comment on the Buckholtz approval of the controversial books. “I suppose I’m not terribly surprised,” said Fonseca. “In the November 2006 elections for Catholic school trustee, he failed to answer a candidate questionnaire prepared by DTMF to help Catholic voters know the views of candidates on relevant social issues. The first question was: ‘Do you agree that marriage should be defined solely as the life-long union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others? Yes or No?’.”

Fonseca concluded, “We contacted candidates 3 times by email or phone, but he failed to respond. While I’m not suggesting that he would have given an improper answer to that question, the reluctance to take a stand at that time seems to fit with the current pattern of non-resistance to books that are clearly controversial from a Catholic moral perspective.”

His Excellence Bishop Anthony Tonnos
700 King St. W.
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
Phone: (905) 528-7988
Fax: (905) 528-1088

Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Bergie
Phone: (905) 528-7988
Fax: (905) 528-1088